Tigers, Arabians fight for a top-two spot
Maratha Arabians to win the match!
While the first objective for teams in this tournament was to nail a playoff berth, the ultimate priority was to finish in the top two, to get an extra opportunity of making the final. Bangla Tigers and Maratha Arabians will be facing off for that privilege in this clash, with the winner assured of a top-two finish.
While the Arabians have the quality and balance to succeed, the Tigers have punched above their weight significantly to be in this position. For a team with no real threatening bowlers on paper, Thisara's men have found heroes for various occasions and that bowling unit is looking quietly confident now, with the all-rounders stepping up with the ball.
The Arabians have a power-packed batting line-up that's actually not fired in unison consistently. But that's because they haven't had to, with the way Chris Lynn has massacred bowling attacks in the tournament. With enough batting depth and quality defensive bowling options, Arabians look a formidable side but the last thing they should do is underestimate the Tigers. The latter has time and again gone under the radar and yet, done their job with amazing efficiency. This encounter could well be battle of two power-packed batting units, and who bowls better would be the ultimate decisive factor.
The openers Rilee Rossouw (140 runs) and Andre Fletcher (114 runs) have been the major impact players for the Tigers. The fact that they haven't scored fifties yet makes those numbers more impressive as it shows that they've been consistent in getting those cameos that can make a difference in this short format.
As the tournament has progressed, the so-called weaker bowling unit has gained in confidence with leg spinner Qais Ahmad and David Wiese (both with 6 wickets) leading the wicket-taking duties for the Tigers. The batting firepower and depth remain Tigers' main strength but they have started to trust the bowling a lot more now and it shows in the results.
Key Players: C Ingram, David Wiese
A Fletcher, R Rossouw, C Ingram, T Moores(wk), T Perera, R Frylinck, D Wiese, L Plunkett, Q Ahmad, C Suri, K Koththigoda
RR Rossouw, R Frylinck, Liam Plunkett, Thisara Perera, D Wiese, Colin Ingram, ADS Fletcher , Chirag Suri, Tom Moores, Qais Ahmad, Prabath Jayasuriya
With a mammoth tally of 265 runs including 3 fifties, this has been Lynn's tournament. The Aussie has bossed bowling attacks and his power-hitting has allowed the other batsmen to play with freedom. And there is some serious quality in that line-up that also bats deep. Adam Lyth (121 runs) has been the other star and he's gained momentum as the tournament has gone on.
The Arabians bowlers haven't been among the wickets as such but where they score over other sides is in the ability to be defensive. The T10 format doesn't necessarily require teams to get wickets as the ability to put a squeeze is a priceless skill in itself. With loads of power-hitting options and smart defensive bowlers, Arabians look in the prime nick.
Key Players: Hazratullah Zazai, L Malinga
H Zazai, C Lynn, A Lyth, N Zadran, C Walton(wk), D Shanaka, D Bravo(c), M McClenaghan, L Malinga, W Hasaranga, S Ahmed
Chadwick Walton, Dwayne Bravo, Wanidu Hasaranga, Kasun Rajitha, Yuvraj Singh, Dasun Shanaka, Chris Lynn, Shiraz Ahmed, Adam Lyth, N Zadran, Lasith Malinga
While there is a rain forecast for the entire week in the UAE and as Wednesday had seen rain interruptions, there was a concern. However, the weather seems to have cleared up and Friday promises to be a reasonably warm day with moderate humidity. Five strips are present for the tournament and we're reaching a stage where each one will be reused. T10 format is unlikely to produce significant wear and tear but the tracks should still be a bit slower. Nevertheless, there should be still plenty of runs in it. Bowlers will need to be smart about their pace and variations.
Sheikh Zayed Stadium is one of the finest venues in the world due to the amazing infrastructure and playing conditions. It's generally been a high scoring venue in international cricket but the long ground dimensions have also kept bowlers interested.
It's reached that point of the tournament where teams don't mind whether they're batting or bowling first. Initially, chasing sides did have an edge and even now, sides may want to know the score but defending scores have also done the trick consistently. In fact, statistically, it's neck-and-neck between teams winning while batting first and chasing. But sides will still choose to bat first considering that the pitch may slow down in the second half of the match.
This is a contest that's really hard to call. While form and momentum is with the Arabians, the Tigers are also on a reasonable high in terms of performances. This could be a close game but the experience in the Arabians camp makes them favorites by a very slender margin.
Maratha Arabians to win the match!